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Thoughts on Creativity — Newsletter #38
A'musings #7(Fall 2003)

by The Creative Edge Board of Directors:
  • Shanja Kirstann
  • Donald Mathews
  • Kyla McCollam
  • Barbara Rose Shuler
  • Illia Thompson
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    Shanja Kirstann:

    [Shanja Kirstann]

    A few nites ago, I had a dream. It is snowing in Carmel-by-the-sea. The beaches and the town are blanketed with refreshing white crystalline shapes. A silence blesses the landscape and I am on the phone sharing this unusual event with a friend. She couldn't believe it, yet to me it seemed natural. Yes. Even in Carmel-by-the sea. Snow!

    So, what is this snow that has come to me in my dreamscape?

    In reflecting on the dream, I feel my depth of love for snow. I even moved to Boulder Colorado from California ten years ago because I missed the four seasons that I had cherished in my childhood in upper New York State. I was tired of the overactivity in California... and yearned for deep winter. I was so excited when the first snowfall came that I spent most of the nite wandering and weaving through the white powdered landscape in a semi-drunken state. I was sure I could hear angels singing... and feel them wrapping their soft downy wings around my exhilarated body. I felt like crying and was amazed at the depth of my response. It was like experiencing a strange love affair that I had longed for—to being met with such pristine beauty and depth of Being.

    I lived in Boulder for three years—drinking in the richness of long and invigorating winters. I also met a spiritual teacher that assisted me enormously in opening to my inner depths. Many hours were graced with silence... and out of that silence, an outpouring of my creative life was re-energized with a "Rocky Mountain High." Piano and voice studies. Singing seasonal songs with the Shining Mountain Singers with the Waldorf community. Sound Healing. Weekends of capturing ecstatic images in nature with a camera. Ice skating. Swimming. Writing. Pastel drawings. Counseling and Leading Groups in Seasonal Soulwork.

    So, why does this dream of snow come to me now? I am living in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I am ten years older. I still love the snow... and miss the deep winters. And yet some how, now I have come to know the snow now lives within me. The beauty and the stillness of the snow is a living presence in the depth of my Being. No matter where I live, No matter what the outer circumstance, I am this Stillness that the snow mirrors back to me... I am the Silence out of which all of life unfolds in its multitude of forms. In the Present. Everything has turned inside out. No longer do I need to seek the snow in the mountains to experience this profound stillness. I have now realized this essence of Silence as the very core of my Being. Such a blessing. Such a gift. No matter where I live. Even in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is always snowing.

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    Donald Mathews:

    [Donald Mathews]


    Daily visits find
    closed eyes inhabiting
    a world of dreams.

    Mother, father,
    brother are alive
    once again.

    My soft touch opens
    her eyes, brings
    expressions of love.

    Her stories intertwine
    out of time, combining
    two worlds into one.

    My life's assurance,
    relaxes her concern
    into contentment.

    We have wrestled each
    other for our independence
    and relationship.

    Now, intimacy and trust
    bind us together with
    some secret wisdom.

    Marj is my wife's elderly aunt by marriage. Somehow as her needs grew, I became her trustee, friend and contact with the outer world over the last ten years. She is now in her 93 year. First taking on the responsibility of her finances, our relationship became more intimate as her physical condition deteriorated. After a fall over a year ago, increasing medical requirements finally left her in a nearby skilled nursing facility bed. Sometimes alert and other times lethargic she has become more and more frail with each cycle closing on her final life chapter.

    Along the way, our relationship had many ups and downs as we each struggled to maintain true to our own needs and carve out a relationship path consistent with our different values. Several times we were on the edge of separation in frustration. However, life in its unpredictable fashion provided the next appropriate steps for each of us beyond our expectations. Somehow we managed to remain connected in a deepening relationship.

    Now, I find peace and solace in our shared experiences as Marj has returned to a state of total dependence not unlike the beginning of life. I have watched as her life simplified. No longer mobile or able to care for her self. Somehow she has released into an innocence and love uncharacteristic for her only a few years ago. I see that it is good and a possible part of the human experience. Love has overcome fear and dissatisfaction with her deteriorating path most of the time. I think it has come from the our willingness to share our lives even if only for a very short time each day as I stop to see her after my afternoon walk.

    My relationship with Marj brings me to the realization of the inseparable connection we have with not only others in our small social circles, but with all life! It is a part of the secret wisdom that comes to us when we are willing to let go and open to the mysterious possibilities life continues to bring. This is true even as we may struggle to free our selves from a particular circumstance.

    For me, it is the deep creative process in action. We set intention the best we can in harmony with our spirit, open to life with our participation, wonder at life's surprising gifts as we attempt to remain present and finally embrace what we have been given ready to repeat the cycle.

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    Kyla McCollam:

    [Kyla McCollam]

    How to be as clever and cunning as a cat is the inspiration for this season's amusings.

    Number One—Seek out the Sun.
    Play with a cord when bored.
    Find some fun—Then run for it.
    Accept with pleasure any helping hand.
    Tolerate poor imitations of your best meows.
    Unsure of a situation—Hide under the bed.
    Disgruntled—Lick your paws, clean your ears, and go to sleep.
    Curl up in a fanciful nook to scheme and dream.
    Intensely peruse whatever moves your fears.
    Purring models contentment and commitment to the process.
    Roll over for a change of pace.
    Needy—Use an adamant "meow" that says "now!"
    Sniff out all the fragrant possibilities.
    To get instant attention—Scratch the sofa or draw a bit of blood.
    Reflect on the Basics—Food, Potty, Petting, and Purring.
    Doorstop springs make riveting wake-up sounds—Boing! Boing! Boing!
      Leaping is the most effective and dramatic way of changing locations.
    The perfect pose invites Meditation and Appreciation.
    Whatever you say—Keep it short, simple, sweet, and savory.
    And a big yawn says it's time to settle down.
    Or move on.

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    Barbara Rose Shuler:

    [Barbara Rose Shuler]


    What the Dickens!?

    Every year I immerse myself in A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens—celebrated tale of the redemption of one Ebenezer Scrooge. Some years, I seek the story out just for myself in a film version, a live storytelling or radio program. And, throughout my life, I have experienced so many versions of the classic that to remember them all would be impossible.

    Most Decembers, though, A Christmas Carol comes to me as work in the form of performances to review for the newspaper.

    So, last week I found myself writing about yet another production, a lavish one in Salinas this time—a staging of the 1957 Tony Award winning version by Israel Hororvitz, featuring Marley's Ghost as a narrator.

    As I wrote in my newspaper essay, we often take Dickens' A Christmas Carol for granted, like pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, the chilliness of winter in the northern hemisphere and the delivery of the U.S. mail. But the story is an extraordinary on-going event in the English speaking world &In spite of its ever-presence in the culture and after many, many, many viewings or readings, the story remains fresh. It continues to grabs us.

    Actor Patrick Stewart was electrified by the original Dickens—one raining night, in a hotel lounge, on standby for a film he was making in northern England. The hotel had a small library from which he had picked out the slimmest volume he could find. It was A Christmas Carol.

    Stewart commented that, like most people, he thought he had actually read A Christmas Carol—but discovered that he had never in fact sat down with it and read it word for word.

    "I opened it up and began to read; three and a half hours later I closed the book," he says. "My face was wet with tears & Slowly, I began to comprehend what had happened. A Christmas Carol explores themes that lie at the heart of life itself: Fear and forgiveness, hatred and humiliation, greed and generosity, love and longing."

    My goodness, I thought to myself. Can it be that I too, after all these years, have never actually read the classic word for word myself?

    No. I hadn't.

    Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to obtain the original Dickens and read it as Stewart had done. I found a website that offered the text in its entirety and copied it. The website also had a link to a recipe for Smoking Bishop, the warm beverage that Scrooge invites his clerk to share with him.

    Scrooge says to Cratchit, "I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob."

    I had always wondered what smoking bishop tasted like. Here was the recipe!!

    Then I went to Kinkos and had the text loosely bound. Late starting out on the long drive to my friend Marilyn's in Santa Barbara, I dropped the Dickens on the seat beside me, hoping she would join me in a read aloud adventure.

    That evening the two of us made very merry indeed, sipping our homemade smoking bishop and reading the first several staves of A Christmas Carol aloud to one another. The following evening, after our work, we made another steaming brew of the wonderful mulled drink and finished reading to one another after which we watched the terrific film version with Patrick Steward in the role of Scrooge.

    Wonderful! We decided to make this a tradition.

    We highly recommend finding time in your busy December lives to read the classic in the original, aloud or to your self. And, yes, smoking bishop is a lovely, nectarous brew that will warm you almost as much as the story itself.

    Smoking Bishop Recipe (Taken from "Drinking With Dickens")

    Bishop seems to have been a very popular drink, and no wonder. Not only is its taste exquisite, but equally its medicinal qualities are great. You can feel it doing good. Temperatures go up, from the top of the head (bald heads turn red) right down to the toes.

    Ingredients: For an American version.

    5 sweet oranges
    1 old fashioned grapefruit
    1/4 lb sugar to taste
    2 bottles strong red wine
    1 bottle ruby port

    How It's Done:

    Bake the oranges and grapefruit in the oven until they are pale brown and then put them into a warmed earthenware bowl with five cloves pricked into each. Add the sugar and pour in the wine—not the port. Cover and leave in a warm place for about a day. Squeeze the oranges and grapefruit into the wine and pour it through a sieve. Add the port and heat, but do not boil. Serve in warmed goblets and drink hot.

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    Illia Thompson:

    [Illia Thompson]


    With the settlement of my mother's estate, I feel the pull of the past into the present and the tug of the future stretch me, elongate my being, across generations.

    The death of Aunt Ann, last week, pulls me back to Lake Tahoe, the home that nourished many summer days, that welcomed so fully, my being. Now my cousins surrender their mother as I did mine, three years earlier. Life cycles spin with greater regularity and bring to mind that I, an elder, will leave life not knowing time or circumstance of departure.

    A sense of finiteness enhances the present. I love the life I lead, let the days fall like leaves to become mulch for spring while the present prevails. Impromptu meeting with another. A class where wholeness pervades. Conversations with my children. Eclectic worship.

    Lately, my blood runs more quickly, being certain to nourish all my cells. This quickening, an awakening to my depth of purpose and possibilities, surprises and delights.

    Now as I enter my golden years with an autumnal hue, I see a newness of appreciation for the extraordinary within the seemingly ordinary. My eyes scan, then lazily linger.

    Yellow snap dragons not quite ready to release their hold. Scarlet bougainvillea pretend to be carnation blossoms as they peek among the green. Iridescent hummingbirds sip pollen from bell shaped fuchsias. An oil painting of sunflowers beside the doorway of my home blooms, no matter what the season.

    Family beyond bloodlines attends me. Guests at the table and beyond, guests in my heart. Gratitude for a sense of place prevails. Gratitude for my changing place in the order of things.

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